Hey new mama! It's a crazy thing, isn't it? The swiftness in which your life just forever changed. You've just been "you" all this time, and suddenly you are "mom." The rotation of excitement, fear, and doubt is on a constant loop in your mind. I remember that feeling when I saw those two lines on that little stick. "There's a baby inside of me! Oh God...Oh no. There's a baby inside of me." Cue happy/panicked crying. You could have (literally) peed your pants you were so excited and so scared. And now that baby is really here, outside of your body. Please don't freak out just yet. You've got some time to figure this whole thing out. Although let me just go ahead and admit that I have three kids and still don't know what the hell I'm doing a lot of the time, but I somehow manage to figure it out along the way, and you will too. "Mom" may feel like a title you don't know if you're ready for, but I promise it's a pretty cool club to be in.
There are people who can teach you things like how to change a diaper, swaddle, feed, give a bath, etc. Those are important things that you for sure need to learn at some point. But I want to tell you what your heart needs to know going into this thing called motherhood.
- You will quickly realize why terrorists use sleep deprivation as a means of torture. It's legit. But you know what? At some point about 2 or 3 weeks in, you adjust. Sure, you're still tired. But suddenly your body just knows that this is the drill for now. And one day you will sleep a full night again, and it will be absolutely glorious!
- People will tell you to sleep when they baby sleeps. But they don't tell you that you might cry when the baby cries. Hormones. Aforementioned sleep deprivation. Having to take care of someone who cannot communicate what's wrong with them. Learning a whole new life skill. All of your lady areas hurting. These are all very justifiable things to be crying about. Just know that you're not the only one who has been on the new mama struggle bus. It's hard, and it's more than ok to admit that it's hard.
- Lots of people are going to offer to help you. They'll offer to bring you meals, fold your laundry, hold the baby, run errands for you. Take. Them. Up. On. The. Offer. Ok? Trust me. You don't have to be a superhero. There's a reason people are offering you help - because they know you need it! So don't try to act like you don't. You have nothing to prove. You just brought a human into the world for crying out loud!
- As previously mentioned, no one really knows what they're doing. You know those moms who act like they have it all figured out? They don't. Don't believe it for a second. I know there are experts in every field who can tell you all the facts about all the things in their chosen area. But throw little people with their own personalities and decision-making "skills" (using that term real loosely here) into the mix, and all of your knowledge can just go straight to the dumpster. Then go ahead and light the dumpster on fire. This doesn't mean you're a bad mom or you are not qualified. This means you are a normal human being doing your best to keep other human beings alive.
- Find yourself some mamas to hang out with who will freely (and kindly) tell you the truth: that some days are sweet and precious and some days are a total crap show. And that that's okay! Doing the "mom" thing is a whole lot easier when you surround yourself with other mamas; the ones who you can vent to, the ones who encourage you, the ones you can bounce ideas off of, the ones who want to make each other better in the most loving way. You know, the way friendship is supposed to be.
- There are moms who will judge you no matter what you do. That's just the truth. Everyone has different opinions and you can't please everyone. So know who your people are so they can be the ones you trust to keep you in check.
- It's true when people say babies don't keep. They change so much in such a short amount of time. But you know what? It's ok if you don't "enjoy every moment". You're going to enjoy so many moments that it will overwhelm you. But you may not enjoy waking up for the fourth time in one night. Or being spit up on. Or not being able to get all the things done without someone needing something from you. That doesn't mean you aren't grateful. That doesn't mean you don't love your baby.
- You don't have to be like other moms. You were made with intention and purpose, and you were given your baby with intention and purpose. You are the right mom for the job of raising your child. No one else can do it like you, so don't try to do it like anyone else. Follow your gut, know it's ok to ask for help, and just be you. You don't have to be a precious mom if that's not your personality. You don't have to be a stay-at-home-mom or a career mom or the cute mom in carpool or the mom who complains all the time, or any of the fill-in-the-blank moms. Just be you. You and your baby will be better off when you just live fully into who you are.
I really could go on and on about all the things I would tell a new mama. It's mostly all the things I wish someone would have told me six and a half years ago. Motherhood can be really freaking hard sometimes, but it is seriously one of the most amazing things I've ever had the privilege of experiencing. I know stepping into this new role can be scary, but you are cut out for it. You have what it takes. I am in your corner, and I'm willing to bet there are a tribe of mamas nearby who are ready and willing to be in your corner, too.
Mama friends, leave your best advice for new moms in the comments below. Pass on your best bit of wisdom, the thing you wish someone had told you. I can't think of a better way to encourage a new mom than to stand with her and share all that we know, and let her know that she is not alone. This mama tribe always has room for new members!